Recently we received this report of the 2002 national congress of the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC, Party of Communist Refoundation). It is written by a comrade who was in the thick of the battle for ideas that took place at the congress, which came at an extremely interesting moment. The Italian workers have come out in force in opposition to the present Berlusconi government, with 3 million demonstrating in Rome, and a general strike of over 13 million workers. The next period will put to the test all tendencies within the labour movement, and we are confident that the genuine ideas of Marxism will, in the end, win the day.

Right-wing premier Berlusconi has announced his plans to modify article 18 of the workers' statute (law protecting workers' rights) so that it does not cover workplaces with less than 15 workers. CGIL leader Sergio Cofferati declared that his union would reject all modifications and would do all in its power to stop such changes being implemented. Strikes have already taken place, and it is clear that the Italian working class will be in an even more combative mood by the autumn. Berlusconi's anti-working class measures combined with the effects of the current economic downturn are an explosive mixture.

After the government had reached an agreement with the other two trade union federations (CISL and UIL), the main federation, the CGIL, under the pressure of millions of workers, is preparing to organise another general strike for October 18. This time Cofferati is forced to go it alone. This will be the first time since 1968 that Italy will experience a "non-unitary" strike.

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